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Live as a coward or die as a hero?

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Invictus_88

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Post Number:#31  PostAugust 9th, 2009, 8:20 pm

Juice wrote:There are no monuments to cowards.


Yes there are.

You think no war hero ever ducked out of family responsibilities? Think no civil rights campaigner ever told a lie to make life easier? Think a President never misled his people for political gain?

Think nobody with a statue ever said "I love you", and didn't mean it?

Pfft.

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Juice

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Post Number:#32  PostAugust 9th, 2009, 8:54 pm

I88-And where are the monuments to those individuals?

How is bravery remembered is it by the act or the life? Do we not recognize the flaws of men and champion to rise above those flaws? Is it not bravery when they do?

Bravery is one who rises above those flaws which cripple many men at the time when selflessness is most needed.

Gandhi was a war hero and most likely never drew even a fist in anger against another man. Do we only build monuments to war heroes? Or do we build monuments to ordinary men who have performed extraordinary deeds. And some who were just men who deserve lasting honor, respect and remembrance.

One of my heroes is Ronald McNair. An ordinary man who died just wanting to be the best he could be and despite all his accomplishments in life just wanted to be the first to play music in space.
When everyone looks to better their own future then the future will be better for everyone.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
C. S. Lewis

Fight the illusion!
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ape

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Post Number:#33  PostAugust 9th, 2009, 9:34 pm

Juice wrote:There are no monuments to cowards.

Cowards can never be moral.
Author: Mahatma Gandhi

Ahem, Juice, I humbly bring this to your attention:

The Statue to A Coward or The Coward Statue:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2960289
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Juice

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Post Number:#34  PostAugust 9th, 2009, 9:54 pm

Ape-I knew there was a sense of humor in there some where.

We need more cowards like Noel. :D :D
When everyone looks to better their own future then the future will be better for everyone.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
C. S. Lewis

Fight the illusion!
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Homicidal Pacifist

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Post Number:#35  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 3:49 am

Juice - I never expected you to be a Gandhi quoter. We have this in common... we both agree and disagree with Gandhi. (That comment is not limited to this forum.)

"Better to be a living coward or a dead hero?"

There's more to life than staying alive.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
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Simon says...

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Post Number:#36  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 8:15 am

Oh! Nice thread! Good question. Holistically it depends on the moral theory in question (which is why I like shoving them all togethar into a mathematical equation, I don't always obey the answer I get but I still do it)...I'm not going to do that right now cos I'd need a specific example. I might do it later. For example an egoist would almost always say better a coward than a dead man, whereas a utilitarian would say "it depends on the level of consequences". A deontologist would say "depends on the level of actions" and Kant would say "depends if your consenting to it". A pacifist would say "not if it means harming someone" and virtue ethics would have a very hard time, it would depend on the circumstance. For now I will give my intuitive response.

I'm primarily a virtue ethisist so it would depend on the circumstance. Furthermore I would urge people in general not to say "I would do such and such" because you never truly know yourself until you have experianced these situations. Fortunately I have, so I can exercise my right to tell you a story.

2 years ago my friend and eye where on our way home, drunk out of our minds from a long night of club crawling. We walked down a dark alley and two much larger men shouldered my friend out of the way. My friend, being drunk and, really very stupid in general (I still love the guy mind) challenged them. So they floored him and started repeatedly kicking him in the head...

First off have a little think as to what I should have done before reading on...(keep in mind also I didn't have time to think, I just reacted)

...Thought about it? Ok. Well what I did was, yes you guessed it, charge in fists flying. Ounched the first guy in the face, grappled for a few minutes, then the other, who was carrying a bottle, smashed said bottle into my face, both slammed me into a car, I somehow managed to wrestle my way free, struck out a few more times, until finally they ran off (not because I was winning but because they didn't want to get caught I guess).

Egoism says that was bloody stupid, utiltiarianism I think comes out 50/50 either way, deontology might approve by dint of defending a friend and being altruistic, Kant would probably get confused, pacifism would have been horrified and virtue ethics might have approved by dint of courage and loyalty.

I personally think I did the right thing as I would never be able to look at myself for running away like a coward and leaving my friend (they may well have killed him), and would rather be courageous even though they may well have killed me!

Being a follower of virtue ethics though I find courage and loyalty to be very important.
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Simon says...

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Post Number:#37  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 8:24 am

P.S.

If that was heroic of me, then don't be too quick to praise because remember I was very drunk (alcohol is liquid courage) and even despite that, remembering back to that night, I was, truly terrified of those guys...So keep in mind that, had I been sober I might have been a tad more inclined to turn tail and run...I hope not...
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Re: Live as a coward or die as a hero?

Post Number:#38  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 1:51 pm

To not rise to the occasion, meaning not realizing your own self-image, your own expectations of what you yourself are, is a very long and heavy burden. Morality always arises after the fact, you save the little girl and die for you effort, THEN, and only then, is there an evaluation of your behaviour by others, heroism is totally dependent upon ones willingness to sacrafice the individual to the welfare of the species, turn that equation around and you have what people like to call a coward. Either outcome can vary however, the same individual who failed his heroic calling may tommorow make a similar sacrafice, yet to those whom only witnessed the first example, he will always remain a coward. I believe that book, "The Red Badge Of Courage." brought that point out nicely, some might call it redemption.
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Re: Live as a coward or die as a hero?

Post Number:#39  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 3:49 pm

Scott wrote:if I saw an innocent 3-year-old girl playing in the street about to be hit by a car, and for the sake of simplicity let's say I know that either I have to let her die or kill myself to save her, of course I would choose to save her. Who wouldn't?

I guess that it would depend on the circumstances. What makes the average 3 year old any more valuable than an older person, me for instance? I'd think that he he would be, argueably, less valuable. He is all needs, while I contribute much!
(By the way, the inclusion of the emotional term 'innocent' is an unnecessary appeal to emotion, a fallacy.)
But.. be that as it may, in response to the 'who wouldn't', again i say that it is 'situational'.
I would not sacrifice myself so indiscriminately. Nor, I guess, would most. (unless, of course, it is their child, but that was not the question)

As far as 'heroism' and 'cowardice' go, they are in the eye and the ego of the observer.
We have no choice but to act in accord with our nature.
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Juice

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Post Number:#40  PostAugust 10th, 2009, 5:19 pm

HP-There is an underlying history of Gandhi many would be unwilling to except let alone understand. The consciousness created by Gandhi was raised 100 fold by King.

Both men had a platform on which they knew their ideology would work. The base of that ideology does not exist in all instances and cannot exist unless the framework for that ideology has been established. The accomplishments of both men has its foundation in successful violent struggle.

As such the works of these men can be easily destroyed unless a willingness to fortify those gains are continuously and vigorously defended.
When everyone looks to better their own future then the future will be better for everyone.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
C. S. Lewis

Fight the illusion!
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Homicidal Pacifist

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Post Number:#41  PostAugust 11th, 2009, 2:06 am

But they preached peace and non-violence. How can you fortify the message of non-violence by using violence?

No need to go into war too much as a retort. Let's stick directly to Ghandi. He said, (paraphrasing) "Do not ever engage in any violent activity for any reason." That includes the reason of fortifying said message.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
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Post Number:#42  PostAugust 11th, 2009, 2:31 am

Nameless - You said, "What makes the average 3 year old any more valuable than an older person, me for instance? I'd think that he he would be, argueably, less valuable. He is all needs, while I contribute much!"

Uh... my first problem with that comment is that the fact that he is all needs is not his fault. Furthermore, since he is all needs, he oviously needs your help. Less valuable??? Though he may not be contributing to the world in excess right now (again, not his fault) does not mean that his life (had it been saved) will not soon amount to having a much more positive impact on the world than your life. You're contributing? I'm sure you are, but are you also not contributing by refusing to save his life at the cost of your own? What contribution can be higher than laying down your own life for the life of a stranger?

Simon - I am not "horrified" by your violent reaction for it would be my reaction as well (though these days I'm carrying pepperspray rather than my big shiny knife). So either I'm not a full pacifist or pacifist needs to be redefined. Probably the former, and hence my name (HP).

I think you what you did was morally right and honorable. My evaluation would be different had you plunged my knife into their throats.

But I do recommend pepperspray or a stun-gun. Effective, kept at a distance, works no matter how big your opponent is or how many of them there are (within reason), and cheaper and nicer than guns.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
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Post Number:#43  PostAugust 11th, 2009, 2:39 am

HP-Good now we are engaging! :shock:

What needs to be understood here is that before Gandhi became the person many try to emulate he was an ordinary man who actually supported the British position during the "Boer War". A careful study of his position at the time can be argued to be racist. Subsequently his position in India was based on a strong sense of nationalism and Indian pride. More over what he understood was English idealism and those ideas could be transcended by his non- violent approach to Indian independence. His comments about Jews during WW2 can also be argued to be racist and in fact Jews have a low opinion of him as a result.

For King what he understood was the Declaration of Independence and as follows Gandhi's non violent success. US independence was gained in violent struggle and as such so was black emancipation. What king understood was that the segregation and separation of blacks could not hold under the weight of that document and its ideas for long and still be valued and valid.

Both men understood that armed conflict against their oppressors would only lead to more oppression as a matter of law as we see in the struggles in South Africa. Not to say that they would support aggression but as is the natural right of the individual to want and struggle to be free.

In a free society no man or group can be oppressed and still be considered a free society and what needs to be guarded and defended is that freedom and as long as one society or nation allows oppression and denies the individual authority over his own will then no society or nation is free. And as history shows freedom is a condition which needs to be fought for and defended.
When everyone looks to better their own future then the future will be better for everyone.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
C. S. Lewis

Fight the illusion!
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Post Number:#44  PostAugust 11th, 2009, 3:26 am

Hi Juice,

Well it is shaping up to be a history lesson. so I shall introduce here the man whom contributed to the philosophy of both Gandhi, Martin Luther King and that man was none other than a man name Henry David Thoreau. When he wrote his philosophical text on, "Civil Disobedience." Gandhi consumed this to the core of his being. There was in the past certainly more than enough examples of self-sacrafice, but what was needed was a phycology of non-violence, a methodology for evoking compassion in those whom had long hardend their hearts. The historical tale of Henry David Theoreu, Gandhi Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela is in and everyone of them, the heroes journey-- a study in courage.
Last edited by boagie on August 11th, 2009, 3:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Number:#45  PostAugust 11th, 2009, 3:31 am

Juice -

You said, "And as history shows freedom is a condition which needs to be fought for and defended."

I full-heartedly agree. But there is a line to be drawn. There are some things (at least in my opinion) that should not be done for the sake of any good cause. I wonder if you agree with me on that but just differ in the placement of that line.

For example (extreme hyopothetical so as to get an idea of where you stand): Is America's freedom worth nuking the rest of the world? If nuking the rest of the world was the only way to fully secure America's freedom, would you support that? Remember that by doing so, the freedom of every other nation would be destroyed.

Or, if another country believed (rightly or wrongly) that the only way to gain or secure their freedom was to destroy America, would you support that?

My point is that to take away freedom (by killing) from a person deserving of freedom (innocent civilians) for the sake of creating freedom seems to me to be a whirlwind of contradiction, or bias for the majority or the home team.

Is freedom only or most important for America, the majority, the individual, etc. ??? Or is freedom equally important to all (or at least the innocent for they have done nothing to sacrifice their freedom)? Do you see what I'm getting at?

P.S. - Glad to engage.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
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